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If you read the title of this article and thought to yourself “great! Finally someone has a shortcut” I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed – and maybe even a little pissed off. If you read that and thought, “I sure don’t think it’s easy” then you’ll relate for sure.

I bring this up because my staff has wholeheartedly embraced our content strategy at GDD Interactive. I believe it’s vital to a company in our business, the digital marketing business, to practice what we preach in all things, and that includes creating fresh content. As their leader, I also believe it’s vital to lead by example, so I do my part in content creation.

The trouble is that creating great, interesting, fresh content is HARD. In a time where thousands of articles are published daily rehashing the same obvious conclusions and repurposing someone else’s work, to produce original and interesting content is a real challenge.

I believe we’ve dropped the bar on what we write in the last five, even ten years. It is a well-established fact that Google loves fresh content. So we’ve become an industry of content generators churning out buzzword filled copy with reckless abandon.

This is of course the issue not only for industry experts like ourselves, but for brands. Simply finding the resources to source, write, edit, and publish content is a huge challenge, before you even get to the idea of putting out great stuff. This is the struggle social media, SEO, and a real-time news cycle has brought us. Winning in digital marketing means having a content strategy, and too often that strategy equates to pumping out as much content as possible with little regard to its quality.

My favorite Facebook spot is the Condescending Corporate Brand Page. This page lives to prove my point. Endless posts dedicated to getting clicks without thought or purpose.

When I sit down to write, or when we’re strategizing on content for a client, the first thing I like to do is get to the fundamentals. Why are we creating content? Why would our audience want to read it? What are we hoping to come from this? Who is going to do it, and what unique perspective can they bring?

The answers that come out of these basic questions can help lead content in the right direction. If the answer to “why” is “to make search engines happy” then fine, don’t write War and Peace (come to think of it, don’t ever write War and Peace). If the answer is “to show thought leadership in our category” then make sure the thoughts are original or at least come from a unique perspective. If the answer is “to give customers a sense of who we are” then make sure you know the answer to that question first, and make sure whoever is behind the final voice of that content knows that answer, too.

Maybe you know all this. But it’s good to be reminded now and then. Ultimately this article was self-serving anyway. One of the ways I get through a writing block is to just start writing, regardless of how good it is. Like I said, good content is hard. Just content is easy. The goal is always to go back and turn it from bad to good. In some cases, though, you just have to go with what you’ve got.

There is, after all, an exception to every rule.